Well, the winning streak is gone.
South Carolina sputtered early, but they shot the ball extraordinarily well in the second half. We couldn’t slow their offensive output, and their 49 second-half points erased a promising first half by the good guys.
A Strong Start
We had a full complement of players for basically the first time this month, and it showed. We looked great early. We jumped out to leads of 10-4, 24-12, and 34-21; but the early kill shot was tantalizingly out of reach. With South Carolina reeling, we never seemed to slam the door shut, and a questionable switch to a passive zone left the door open for the Gamecocks to shoot their way back into this game. We still led at the half, but it felt like an opportunity lost.
Halftime Score: Texas A&M 42, South Carolina 35
The Gamecocks Were Literally On Fire
The second half was basically a highlight reel for the Gamecocks, as they sprinted towards a school record sixteen made threes on the afternoon. For reference, they only made eleven buckets inside the arc. A special tip of the cap to AJ Lawson, who was 6-7 from beyond the arc and was basically throwing real life fireballs.
The end result was 49 second half points for South Carolina, which we flat couldn’t match. We had some solid offensive efforts of our own, but the story of the afternoon was South Carolina’s outside shooting.
Basketball is a silly ol’ game, and sometimes you run into a buzzsaw.
Final Score: South Carolina 84, Texas A&M 77
- There’s an advanced metric I like to peruse called “percentage of possessions used,” or %Poss. It’s calculated by assigning credit or blame to a player when his actions end a possession, either by making a shot, missing a shot that isn’t rebounded by the offense, or committing a turnover. TJ Starks leads the SEC in this metric with 31%... and his %Poss rating in this game was forty-five percent. It’s his highest number this season, and I have to imagine it’s one of the highest single-game numbers in D1 basketball. That level of usage isn’t healthy, plain and simple.
- Savion Flagg had his best offensive game of the season. Flagg drilled six threes en route to 24 points, and he was the main reason we hung around in this game in the second half.
- Mitchell continued his crazy “18 points or higher” streak, dropping 20 points of his own on 8-13 shooting. He played 37 minutes, and appears to have officially taken on the load of primary scorer.
- For the first time all year, the Nebo/Mekowulu combo didn’t get it done. These guys had 7 points and 7 rebounds in a combined 39 minutes, and the Gamecocks killed us on the glass with 16 offensive boards. It’s rare, and almost jarring, to see the big guys let us down.
I don’t want to re-hash the same point too often, but it bears repeating: If your opponent shoots that well at home, there’s not a ton you can do. I really do wonder why we felt the need to go away from the man defense that was causing them problems up top, but I’ll drive myself crazy trying to predict (or explain) the moves by our current coaching staff.
I’ll only leave you with this: It strikes me as the sort of game we could have won on a different day.